Have you ever found yourself looking down at your mobile device for long to extended periods of time throughout the day? Do you ever feel pain in your neck after doing so? If you are a tenacious texter or a savvy smartphone user, you may notice that your neck is starting to hurt while you are using your device. The Ontario Chiropractic Association is cautioning consumers to reduce pressure on their neck and spine by limiting time for texting, networking on social media or playing games on cell phones as it can cause ‘text neck.’ A term coined by US chiropractor Dr Dean L. Fishman, ‘text neck’ refers to overuse syndrome or a repetitive stress injury, where you have your head hung forward and down looking at your mobile electronic device for extended periods of time. When users are stuck in the unnatural posture of looking down for a prolonged period of time, it can lead to tightness across the shoulders, soreness in the neck and even chronic headaches.
“When you are looking down at your phone, even 15 degrees, it’s really an awkward posture and you are putting weight on your neck,” said Dr. Jade Egonia, a Peel chiropractor and spokesperson of Ontario Chiropractic Association. The human head weighs about a dozen pounds. But as the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds.
Smartphone users spend an average of two to four hours per day hunched over, reading e-mails, sending texts or checking social media sites. That’s 700 to 1,400 hours per year people are putting stress on their spines, according to research published by Kenneth Hansraj in the National Library of Medicine. This problem is especially concerning in young, growing children, however, because it could possibly cause permanent damage to their cervical spines that could lead to lifelong neck pain. Teens and younger adults could conceivably be spending an additional 5,000 hours in this position. “The problem is really profound in young people,” Hansraj said. “With this excessive stress in the neck, we might start seeing young people needing spine care.”
“Text neck” most commonly causes neck pain and soreness, however in addition in can also lead to upper back pain ranging from a chronic, nagging pain to sharp, severe upper back muscle spasms, shoulder pain and tightness, possibly resulting in painful shoulder muscle spasm. As well, if left untreated, a “text neck” can lead to the inflammation of the neck muscles, ligaments and nerves, permanent arthritic damage, as well as increased curvature in the spine. The good news is that there are ways to alleviate your muscular pain and discomfort before the condition could get worst. Take frequent breaks: A “text neck” is a repetitive stress injury – it can be easily prevented by taking breaks from your mobile device every 15 minutes, looking up and bringing the neck back into the neutral position. Alternatively, hold your mobile device higher so that it is aligned with your eyes and your neck muscles are not so taxed.
Rehabilitation is another great option, if you find yourself experiencing pain in your neck from developing “text neck”. Chiropractic treatment, physiotherapy, and massage therapy can help to decrease your neck pain and improve your neck mobility. A registered practitioner will be able to stress the importance of maintaining proper posture while texting and exercising regularly to keep your neck in the best possible position and pain free. If you believe you are suffering from text neck, do not hesitate to book with one of our registered practitioners.